Teresa of the High Sierra

Grand Tetons at Colter Bay
Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Some poems are inspired by friends–snapshots from a moment or tributes to their uniqueness. Here is one: 

Teresa packs alone
and wearies
only after miles on narrow trails.

California wild oats
burrow in her socks.
She slows
to yank the most tenacious burrs.
Achilles tendon
stretched,
she climbs on.

Oak. Blue spruce.
Sage and scrub waist-high.
Trail vanishes in the undergrowth.
Teresa shrugs, regains her footing,
affirms
there’s no cause
for alarm.

After packing in for days
the scent
of her humanity
all but disappears.
Squirrels beg her dehydrated
apples when she sits down to eat.

Other hikers follow at a distance.
They seek her clear direction, her
feel for changing weather,
her knowledge of the stars.

Teresa keeps one prudent fear,
of snakes.
She treks through heavy peat,
prods her elm rod
into loamy earth.

Once, she stumbled on a rattler.
Would have fallen on him, but for that
walking stick. She backed up one step.
He slid the same. His silver and
chocolate diamond scales glistened in the sun.

The rattle quieted. Her hand
relaxed around the red Swiss Army knife swinging
from a chain around her waist, its blades
honed clean
from whittling dry kindling,
from parceling out dried fruit.

C 2015 Mary A. Schultz All rights reserved